Could this be the first dirty trick in Ohio's 2006 Election? If so, we also expect it won't be the last.
Former Hocking County, Ohio, Board of Elections Deputy Director turned 2004 recount whistleblower Sherole Eaton, and Paddy Shafer, campaign manager for Green Party Gubernatorial candidate and Ohio journalist Bob Fitrakis, contacted us over the weekend with some interesting news.
It seems that Absentee Ballot Applications with an election date of November 7, 2000 are showing up all over various public libraries in Ohio. A typo? Apparently not. The forms are old ones, but for some reason are being made available, along with old Voter Registration forms --- from 2004 --- in all sorts of locations!
Here's a sample from one of the photos they sent in over the weekend:
While all of this could simply be an innocent mistake, we'll remind you that this is Ohio, Election Snakepit and Dirty Tricks Capitol of the World since dethroning the previous world champ, Florida, but just by a hair, as of 2004.
The "innocent mistake" theory seems more unlikely since it seems to have been found in so many locations, as described by Shafer and Eaton (see a full letter from Eaton below), who told us she never saw even a single such occurrence while serving as an election official during the entire 2004 Bloodbath in the Buckeye State.
"Innocent mistake" or not, remember: Ohio Sec. of State J. Kenneth Blackwell rejected thousands of Voter Registration forms in 2004 because they weren't on heavy enough paper stock. So would he flinch for a second at tossing out "old" Voter Registration forms received today? Or refuse to send an Absentee Ballot because it failed to specify the correct election date? Especially, when he points out on his official SoS website, that such applications require "A statement identifying the election for which you are requesting an absentee voter's ballot?"
As well, the rules for such applications have changed as the Ohio legislature has imposed new, draconian laws in their never ending attempt to keep people from being able to vote. The last four digits of the voter's Social Security number is now required on Voter Registration forms, but was only optional on the 2004 forms. Just another reason that Blackwell may be able to use to reject an application at his whim.
The official SoS site tells voters that they may pick up Voter Registration forms at "public libraries" on the page answering the question "How can I obtain an Ohio voter registration application?" So does the SoS have the responsibility to make sure that such applications are properly made available in such places?
Blackwell, of course, is also running for Governor, even while overseeing the completely fair and impartial adminstration of his own election as SoS. (The good news, when last we checked, he was some 20 points behind his Dem opponent, Ted Strickland.)
Eaton has more details, and warnings for all Ohioans in the following letter she sent to us last night...It's posted in full below...